Camping in the wilds of Washington can be an enriching experience, connecting us with nature and offering moments of tranquility away from urban hustle. However, whether you’re settling into a cozy RV campsite or opting for a more rustic dry camping experience, being in cougar territory comes with responsibilities. Here’s what you should know:
Cougars and Dry Camping
Dry camping, often referred to as boondocking, means camping without the standard amenities like electricity or water hookups. These often-secluded spots bring you closer to nature, but also closer to its inhabitants.
Awareness is Key
Familiarize yourself with the signs of cougar activity, such as tracks, scat, or scratch marks. If there’s recent evidence of a cougar in the area, consider relocating your campsite.
Safe Food Storage
Without the amenities of the RV to secure food items, it’s imperative to store food in airtight containers and, if possible, in a vehicle or bear-proof container. While cougars primarily hunt live prey, the smell of food can attract smaller animals, which in turn can draw in larger predators.
Limit movement during the night. If you must venture out, use a strong flashlight and move in groups.
Cougars and RV Camping
RV camping, with its added security and amenities, might seem entirely safe from wildlife encounters. And that’s mostly true. The large RV combined with the noise you make setting up is more than enough to keep normal cougars at bay.
Wait for Light To Set-Up and Pack-Up
When setting up or packing up your RV, be aware of your surroundings. These are times when you’re most active outside the RV, potentially drawing attention.
Secure Pets and Food
Whenever you go outside the RV, ensure pets, especially smaller ones, are kept safe and don’t leave food outside. An interested cougar might not differentiate between a small pet and natural prey.
Educate Fellow Campers
If you’re camping in a group or near others, and you see they’re leaving food out then share your knowledge about cougar safety. Collective awareness can ensure the safety of the entire campground.
General Tips for Both Camping Styles
Cougars tend to avoid humans. Making occasional loud noises or talking can alert them to your presence.
Camping with Kids
If camping with children, ensure they understand the importance of staying close and not wandering off. Educate them about wildlife in the area.
In Case of a Sighting
If you spot a cougar, maintain eye contact, stand tall, and never run. Retreat slowly and try to appear larger. Always report any sightings to campground authorities or local wildlife agencies.